Despite the widespread June flooding, Iowa’s corn harvest is still expected to nearly equal last year’s record crop, while predictions show the national corn crop will be the second-largest in history. Ron Litterer, an Iowa corn grower and president of the National Corn Growers Association, says corn prices have fallen lately.
Litterer, who farms near Greene, says: "(Corn) has had a dramatic pull back, however, I think it’s still at levels that are profitable for most corn producers. We have higher input costs so it’s getting a little tighter there, but I also think it’s probably a price level more of our end users can afford to pay and I think that’s good for our long-term demand for our corn markets."
Along with the falling corn prices, Litterer says farmers’ input costs have skyrocketed. "Diesel prices have doubled. Fertilizer prices have doubled," Litterer says. "A lot of it’s due to the value of the dollar because we import a lot of fertilizer and of course, we import a lot of our oil as well. A lot of it’s due to the value of the dollar but it does drive up our production costs. It makes our break-even much higher than it’s been in the past so it’s one of those issues that farmers are going to have to watch very closely."
With lower corn prices and high input costs, Litterer says the 2009 growing season could do a dramatic turn-around. He says: "Farmers are going to have to take a look, when they make that decision on what they plant, the prices of those crops and what their input costs are and they’re going to have to figure out their bottom line numbers. Generally, farmers will plant what benefits them most in the marketplace. I think it’s a little early for those decisions to be finalized right now but I think as we get into the fall, farmers will start firming up their decisions for the ’09 crop."
Litterer has something of a prediction for next year’s planting season. "I think you’re going to see a mix of acres between wheat, soybeans and corn and the market will work that out. I think the wheat situation probably will help improve prospects for more acres in soybeans than corn."
This week’s U-S-D-A forecast calls for the nation’s corn crop to be six-percent smaller than last year’s record harvest, while in Iowa, this fall’s haul is expected to match last year’s 171 bushels an acre.